IS forced marriage possible? Marriage is supposed to be conducted in harmony between bride and groom with the blessings of their families. Unfortunately, forced marriages occur in Saudi Arabia.Statistics released by the Ministry of Justice indicate that the divorce rate in the Kingdom has become extremely high in the last 20 years — it jumped up from 25 to 60 percent. In 2007, 16,765 divorce cases were registered, at a rate of 52 cases a day. The number jumped to 28,867 cases in 2009 at a rate of 79 cases a day.If marriage is forced, it naturally ends with divorce. How can a man force his daughter to marry a certain man just for the dowry? I know the case of a father who forced his daughter to marry a man who was 40 years older than her. There are many such cases.If the girl refuses, her life will become hell. If she chooses a man of her age, he will be rejected by her father. This is also against the Islamic teachings, which give girls the freedom of choice. If the girl refuses, the marriage will be illegal and void.Perhaps forced marriage is the most important reason for family breakdowns and infidelity, and it reflects on the community in the form of parents fighting, which causes harm to kids.We are facing a serious situation threatening Saudi society, and we should address the problem. Here comes the role of the media. All kind of media — audio, visual and print, as well as imams and civil societies should participate. There is not enough awareness to address tribe culture and traditions that need to be changed.We have entered the third millennium and things around us have changed dramatically. At the same time, we should follow our religion, which denies these traditions and respects the girl’s opinion.I know Saudi women have not yet attained their rights. We commit aggression on their humanity and take the rights given to them by Almighty Allah.Save our society from family breakdowns, the main cause of which is forced marriages.
By ABDULLAH BAJUBAIR